With Autism Acceptance Month here, Foot Locker Inc. has revealed a plan to show its commitment to the cause – and has called on Diadora, Puma and others to help.

“The CDC recently released statistics [in December 2021] showing that 1 in 44 children [who are 8 years old] are on the autism spectrum. Even if autism doesn’t affect you personally or an immediate family member, chances are you know someone on the spectrum. We want to help promote acceptance of autism – not just for this month, but day in and day out,” John Hochadel, vice president of business concepts for Foot Locker Inc. North America and responsible for of the employee resource group.


Top view of the Foot Locker Inc. x “Be Seen” Diadora N9002.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Foot Locker

As part of the pledge – collectively called “Be Seen” – Diadora and Puma have created suitable footwear which will be sold at Foot Locker banners.

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The Diadora Look, which was designed by former professional wrestler turned designer Sarath Ton, is a reimagined version of the Diadora N9002. Foot Locker said the project was personal for Ton, whose brother-in-law lives with autism. The look, dubbed the “Be Seen” N9002, is built with an alternate closure option to help those who may not have the motor skills to tie their shoelaces. Additionally, the look features “Awareness” on the left shoe and “Acceptance” on the right, along with the neurodiversity symbol consuming the upper and puzzle pieces taking over the liner.

Additionally, there will be a personalized “Be Seen” t-shirt designed by Ton and produced by the non-profit Spectrum Designs to complement the shoes, and Foot Locker has tapped Ben Rosloff, a filmmaker and storyteller who lives with the autism, to film a documentary highlighting the design process and inspiration behind the “Be Seen” collection.

The “Be Seen” Diadora N9002 arrives April 13 via Foot Locker and Champs Sports with a price tag of $120.

As for Puma, the two have teamed up with actor and autism community advocate Ron Funches for a sneaker inspired by his son, who is on the autism spectrum. Foot Locker said Funches remixed the Puma RS-X with tonal uppers created with multiple textures, which the retailer says are tools to deliver tactile sensory input and motor movements that aid in self-regulation. And the bright outsoles, according to Foot Locker, are a nod to Funches’ son’s favorite colors.

Foot Locker Inc. said the Puma sneakers will arrive at a later date.

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“Diadora and Puma have been excellent partners in this adventure. Both participated in our initial projects last year and took the opportunity to return this year for the second round,” said Hochadel. “We worked with Sarath Ton and Ron Funches to help us bring these designs to life. They have family members on the spectrum and were inspired by that connection. Sarath wanted to build on our “Be Seen” theme and feature a bold color execution with glow-in-the-dark elements. Ron wanted to sport his son’s favorite color to match his noise canceling headphones perfectly.

Additionally, the effort includes financial contributions.

Foot Locker Inc. and Diadora are donating $25,000 to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, and the retailer and PUma are donating $25,000 to Next For Autism, an organization that creates and supports educational programs, clinics and professionals with the aim of affecting fundamental changes in approaches to autism services.

Beyond the shoes, the retailer enlisted Dane Capo, an artist who was diagnosed with epilepsy at 10 months and autism at 5, and Rebecca Oslaky, who is also an autistic artist, to create “Be Seen” t-shirts produced by Spectrum. Drawings. Shirts will be sold exclusively at Foot Locker Inc.

Foot Locker also said a $25,000 donation to Autism Speaks is planned in conjunction with the releases.

“We’ve worked with Spectrum Designs on non-autism related projects and they’ve always done a fantastic job. The majority of their workforce are people living with autism, and that certainly fits in well. in our “Be Seen” theme,” said Hochadel.

Besides its work with brands and organizations, Foot Locker has several internal initiatives it is working on. For example, it will organize training sessions for employees and create opportunities for young adults on the spectrum to work with them. And Foot Locker Inc. said it will work with Gamut Management to hire people on the spectrum as content creators, photographers, models and more to support the releases.

These efforts, Foot Locker said, support the mission of its global employee resource group Laced Differently, which aims to create visibility, awareness and empowerment for people with disabilities.

“We wanted to ensure that internally this project was run by people with ties to the wider autism community while also partnering with others within our organization to raise autism awareness and promote acceptance in our business,” Hochadel said.

Looking ahead, Hochadel said he hopes autism acceptance and awareness will become a focal point of Foot Locker.

“Ideally, this is just the beginning. There is a place in our industry for autism acceptance. From making products more suitable, to providing opportunities to work directly with people living with autism, and to working with a variety of charities, there’s a long track here for everyone. world,” Hochadel said.

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